Boat People


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It’s hard to describe to those who aren’t….and those who are know right away what I’m talking about. Boat People. I guess you could say my husband and I are boat people. Sailboat People mostly if we’re being specific. I’m not sure exactly how it happens, or how it happened for us but I think I have an idea. I grew up in Coastal Alaska, in a fishing village in Prince William Sound. While my family weren’t specifically fishermen; boats and boat life were a GIANT part of my childhood. From the harbor that sits front and center of my sweet town to the many friends who helped on their parents fishing boats to the endless ferry rides as my little town had no road. Boats were a working part of my life.
I do remember that sailboats were a bit more of a mystery in my harbor. My fabulous fifth grade teacher ( and friend of my mom’s as is everyone in town) lived on one in the harbor which was totally cool. Alaska is ridiculously beautiful and awesome and Prince William Sound is one of it’s Crown Jewel’s if you ask me so it was not unusual for a giant yacht to pull into town. Word would spread through town about which celebrity owned it etc. But I remember well one year a sailboat yacht came to town and it was so beautiful my mom brought me down to the harbor to see it. The Tabasco it was named and it was shiny red and gorgeous, it turns out I’ve since learned my mom is a sailboat person too. But back then that was about all I knew on the sailboat front.

This very same Tabasco I think!

This very same Tabasco I think!

Years later, I was 17, enter my husband, a young guy from Vermont, just entered the Coast Guard and sent to a cutter in a small isolated town in Alaska. There is a story there for another day but let’s just leave it to say that over the winter our friendship blossomed and as I got to know this guy, one thing I quickly learned was….he was a boat guy. He told me of his dreams to buy a sailboat and travel and I’ll say it, I was impressed, although slightly cynical, I was going to be the next woman president or something you know.. He was relentless though, enticing me with books such as Maiden Voyage by Tania Abai and Following Seas by Beth Leonard

Two years later he was transferred to the small boat harbor in Rockland Maine, just about the most perfect place for a sailboat person.

Rockland Harbor ~ A heavenly sight for a sailboat person

Rockland Harbor ~ A heavenly sight for a sailboat person

The next time we spoke the first thing he said was, “I bought a sail boat and I’m living on it in Rockland Harbor”. Well I’ll be darned, he wasn’t jokin’! He’d bought his first boat. A twin keeled Westerly 25′. We sailed around Penobscot Bay and the Coast of Maine for two summers on that sweet little boat. He worked 2 days on 3 days off then 3 days on, 2 days off shifts at the USCG small boat station which left plenty of time for sailing and exploring little islands and harbors and oh the fun. I didn’t realize it then but I was becoming a boat person too.

So many memories at this sweet dinghy dock~

So many memories at this sweet dinghy dock~

Notes from the Homeschool Front



Looking back over some pictures and I thought to myself wow, we aren’t doing as bad as I sometimes like to think!!

As a homeschool mom I often feel I suffer from the terminal illness of Homeschool Mom Guilt. The feeling that you just aren’t doing enough. It’s a horrible disease and I pray you never get it. If you do, seek treatment immediately.

Treatment options include
-a good long chat with your homeschool mom girlfriends
– a look back through pictures and/or previous years folders, workbooks, portfolio’s etc to realize how far you’ve come,
– Just Get Over it~!

I like to try to keep my eye on the big picture. Sometimes I have little mantra’s where I just have to say
What is the goal here?
What is the end result?
Will doing more of XYZ achieve that?
or remind myself Human’s are amazing curious intelligent beings, it ‘s going to work if you just let it.
What tools and advantages did Ben Franklin or Abraham Lincoln, Galileo or ( you pick someone great!) have? Certainly not another new fandangled curriculum or more toys…..
Books, pencils, role models perhaps…..

Anyway today as I looked through my pictures I was encouraged and so I’ll share! Here are some snapshots from the Homeschooling Front!

My chalkboard wall, I love this so much. On days where a creative outlet seems like a far away dream, I find simple pleasures in simply drawing on the chalkboard, this is from November and when I looked at it I thought oh yeah!!! we did all that memory work in November! Not too shabby! (you can see I have to be my own cheerleader sometimes haha, you surely don’t hear my kids and my farmer telling me I rocked it with the memory work that week!)
PS my board doesn’t look quite so great this week month, it’s been a hard month.


Good gracious?!? Was this me who wrote that out?! It must have been one of my better days!!!! My oldest was just not grasping the word problems so after repeating myself for several days I had an AHA moment! Write it on the wall then for the whole month whenever you hear “Mom, this isn’t working!” you can cleverly say, “Did you read through the steps on the wall?”
Reminding myself of this better moment goes a long way in easing the HSMG (Homeschool Mom Guilt, you already figured that out right?)20131130_153506

This is just a picture to keep my promise of making sure I keep it real around here. No “pretending life is perfect” mom here. That is real. So real it’s kind of horrible. That, my friends, is the homeschool table! Please don’t judge?


Ahhhh, that’s better. Good news is, it’s never as bad to clean up as you think. Bad news is, it’s going to get bad again quickly!

I love looking at pictures like this. They make me think. This! This is homeschooling at it’s best, deep into a game, getting along, learning as you go.
Relationships and cooperation.
A good day right here.

And lastly I have been trying to remember to share this forever. I’m not sure why but it says a lot about us. I think. This is the wall of our dining room. Lots of learning takes place here and though I love a good home and garden magazine, no amount of style takes precedent over an ABC poster or a map.. you know those things.

About a year ago Grace found this in my farmer’s market tote and felt compelled to put in on the wall along with the other educational materials. No one really questioned why, and so there it has hung for over a year now. And about once a month I look up at it and I just crack up.
It’s so funny.
It’s so us.
It’s hard to imagine walking into anyone’s dining room and seeing a poster of primal meat cuts. It makes me laugh just to type it!
But in the scheme of life I suppose it is quite educational and informative.
Why not?


So there you have it friends. Notes from the Homeschool Front.
Until next time

Feel free to send a note if you need help treating HSMG, I know it well!



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A friend and I were chatting the other day about something in our homeschool coop that she was growing tired of. As I was trying to help her brainstorm some ideas for her kids that would still fit the parameters of the assignment and liven up and inspire her family more I likened it to the analogy of turquoise.

See almost everyone in the coop was doing something similar, a fine thing, if you like it, but not for any apparent reason.

It wasn’t a requirement, there were no rules.

It just became a thing folks were doing until it almost started to feel like a rule.

And even though a person might not be loving doing it that way, they might forget that it didn’t start out that way, it just kind of became that way, maybe everyone did?

For three days now I keep thinking to myself whenever I see similar situation. That is turquoise!
Unfortunately, it’s everywhere.

Let me tell you the analogy of turquoise. You may already know it, if you do this is just your friendly reminder. If you don’t, or you actually do, but didn’t realize until now by hearing it that you do. Then I challenge you, think turquoise!


Have you ever wondered who gets to decide what colors are in fashion for a season? You know one spring it’s bold gem colors, next season earthy tones etc. and then one season it’s turquoise. EVERYONE who is anyone is wearing turquoise. Accents, scarves, earrings, sweaters, you name it. It’s in every store. You see a beautiful, perfect for you, just the right stretch, tee and of course it’s turquoise. How could it not be, somewhere someone decided turquoise was in. A few others liked that color, we don’t exactly know who or where these mysterious people are, but somehow it happened, and wala!

Now I have to confess, most all my shirts are second hand so it doesn’t happen to me much (which may be part of the analogy?hmmm), but I do notice it. How can you not when EVERYONE is wearing it. And occasionally, very occasionally I think, gosh maybe I should at least go buy an accent in turquoise, it really IS hot these days. At this point I am praying that you have figured out I am not just talking about turquoise!

Well isn’t it the pits then, when you’re a gal who can’t stand turquoise, and it’s in style and so you’re wearing it, because maybe someone gave you something turquoise or maybe it got so in fashion that even at the thrift store, the cutest shirts are turquoise.

It’s just a color everyone is wearing and no one really knows why.

No one really knows who decided turquoise was in style, and if they are being honest, they might not even know why they are suddenly LOVING it when two years ago the LOVED earthy tones.

Do they LOVE it?


Hmmm, maybe now it’s hard to remember if you were a person who had a teeny tiny, gut, knee- jerk negative reaction to that color the first time you
saw it on the racks, because you are seeing it so much now these days. And really nice, beautiful, sweet people are wearing it, which makes it more attractive and……

Well here is what I have to say.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don’t wear turquoise unless you have thought about it, it really brightens your day, it flatters you, suits your mood etc.

DO NOT wear turquoise because everyone else is.

And ESPECIALLY don’t wear turquoise if you don’t like it.

Or worse if it looks downright bad on you.

Now I am praying that you all have identified some turquoise in your life.

Because it’s everywhere.

Fashion (obviously)

Parenting styles- please don’t get me wrong, I have my favorites, but I have to be careful. Is it my favorite because it’s in style or because it suits me. And yes, absolutely, there are parenting styles, especially discipline styles and they do go in and out of fashion, oh yes they do.

Particularly for me is education. By deciding to homeschool one quickly realizes it’s up to you to decide what information your children should learn. And it is astounding, the knowledge that is out there, you can’t teach it all so where do you begin, where do you focus? Well I most certainly don’t let them decide, whomever they are that decided what is in style to teach these days. And it just sort of radiates from there.

Education models – testing anyone? This is one I was just talking to my mom about the other day and it drives us batty. I read article after article and hear person after person talk about their disappointment in the way public education has gotten so heavy on testing and yet, it’s more and more and everyone is doing it and— where on Earth this this trend come from??? What people decided this was in style? Ugh. And why are all these teachers and parents allowing it?

They just don’t think they have a choice, it’s turquoise and everyone is wearing turquoise?

I see it a lot in Children’s literature, out with the old (some very fabulous, awesome literature) and in with the new, some good, some horrid.

Doesn’t matter apparently.

It’s turquoise.

And “New Math”? Don’t even get me started. Now that I am teaching my own kids math, I tend to teach them of course the way I learned, which was great by the way, thank you Miss Poor, Mrs. Shellhorn, Mrs. Church, Mr. Beaudin and Mr. Davis fine, fine public educators of the late 80’s!
But no there is “new math” now. Who exactly decided this? I call TURQUOISE!

How about going to college? Everyone must go? Just say no to Turquoise!

I could go on, school choices, church, laws, taxes, food, fitness trends, cars we drive, language, media, politics -oh dear heavens the turquoise in politics…..

I call turquoise on all these things…in government, voting, and laws. Don’t even get me started on raw milk or on farm slaughter laws today! Just who decided these things were bad?

Also… I call TURQUOISE on government corn subsidies! (just sayin’)

Moral of the story is…


If turquoise doesn’t suit you, or maybe even anyone, and you don’t know who or why it’s in style, don’t wear it. Who knows who made it in style this season anyway. Maybe it was a mistake and they have since realize they don’t like it either?

There are so many great colors (Sub: whatever you want) out there.

Some that look just stunning on you!

And really just WHO decided on that color anyway?

Side note: if you LIKE turquoise, then by all means wear it, especially or maybe EVEN after it goes out of season.
Super funny side note: I had my camera out today and there was more turquoise in my house than imagined, haha, oh life. Maybe it’s Chartreuse that just isn’t me?

Unfashionable As Always -thisfarmwife


full freezer, grateful heart


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When your freezers are full, with a year’s worth of rich, delicious, grass-fed beef, which was fed, nourished, taken, cut and wrapped by the hands of your family, your heart tends to swell a little with gratitude.

At least mine does.

Oh yes, there was the cursing of the rowdy young steers that escape their fencing, and long but satisfying days haying.
There are chores, chores and more chores.
Cold hands from cutting that ache as they warm up and plenty of time, grinding and wrapping.
Then it’s done for another year.
Soon after, you pull a package from the freezer and feed your family and it is so good.
So, so, so good.
Your pretty sure it’s the best beef ever.
And your heart swells with gratitude all over again.

We really don’t mind the work. A few days out of our year to cut and wrap our meat. We aren’t the fastest nor the best at it. But we’ve gotten quite handy breaking down an animal for the freezer, and it’s very satisfying to truly feed oneself.(Side note: the meat we sell from our farm is processed at an inspected butcher, this is just for us!) That said, usually we do a beef in two days. Given that we still have to take care of kids, barn chores etc. This usually works. This year however between New Year’s Eve, barn fire aftermath and family visits, we had to spread out the process a little longer. It started to seem like it was taking forever. When my sweet 6 year old Rita asked me as I was heading out to wrap as dad came in from the barn, for the 3rd day. ” Is that what you do in the evenings now Mama? wrap meat?” I could not stop chuckling. Oh boy were we ready to be done. Well… the beef is done…..but we have a pig to do tomorrow. I keep hearing that sweet voice and begin to laugh at what our lives must look like to others if that’s my own child wonders!

Here’s to REALLY full freezers of diverse offerings, and here’s to being done wrapping meat for a season anyway.

1. My farmer finding his cut 2.deliciousness 3.cut and wrap station-all essentials including my coffee in this gotta keep the meat cold shop 4. & 5. My girls helping, they love this job! (there is a little boy sure to be somewhere around there making robot out of screws) 6.My Rita, creating with her new drill gun while Mom and Dad work 7. & 8. Precious pile of wrapped meat

So long, old barn

I’ve been away from this space too long. I think of it often and then so quickly something else fills up the time I might spend here. So much happens in a day, week, month even in a minute sometimes. There are so many fun pictures and stories of life on the farm and homeschooling three kidlets I’d love to share, but it feels a little funny to just pick-up the blog as usual without writing about our barn fire. I don’t really want to write about it, I’m quite ready to move on. It’s occupied enough space in my mind, and heart and life. Phone calls, insurance etc. But it is a still an event that can hardly be glossed over and so I’ll share here quickly and give it it’s due then I can move forward to other things in life and here on the blog

This farm, where we are so fortunate to live and raise our kids and make our living on is pretty good sized. The short version of my standard spiel which I blogged about is HERE. The Farm consists of two farms that have been merged together over the years. So we live in the main farmhouse with the BIG BIG barn and the pole barn and tool shed etc. and at the top of the hill is a second smaller old farmhouse and another barn. That barn was used mostly for storage and part of it was a bunkhouse for our seasonal employees.

On New Year’s Eve, the kids and I ponied up to go to town to celebrate First Night. A wonderful night of music dancing and arts with venues up and down the street from schools to churches all hosting music every hour. Many of our friends and community head out to this family friendly event to ring in the New Year. It starts at 4pm and so far with the ages of my tribe we have never made it until midnight. Consequently, we usually start early to enjoy as much as possible of the evening before we head home. My Farmer opted not to go. He works so hard, he tends to be quite choosey about how he spends his down time PLUS he had to do evening chores from 5-6:30. Then he was looking forward to a quiet evening at home until we returned.

It was forecasted to be a super cold night and First Night involves a lot of walking so I had packed up our cooler bag with warm empanadas and baked potatoes wrapped in foil to be dinner and handwarmers.

The kids and I were off as we listened to Irish music, jumped in the bouncy house and played with friends at the Fun Fair and did some Contra dancing.

We were just about to help set off some beautiful paper lanterns before heading to the 9pm show of a local bluegrass band when I had a minute to myself and pulled out my phone. Rob had sent 3 texts (unheard of!) and a missed called saying call it’s important! My phone was on mute (because of the music shows you know…) when I saw my mother in-law was calling. This made my blood run cold. She wouldn’t be calling me at 9pm on New Years on my cell. With the missed calls and text from my hubby……I answered and she told me that the upper barn was burning down!

I gathered the kids to say their goodbyes to friends, got a few drops of Rescue Remedy from my dear friend Kathleen to keep me from shaking on the drive home and back home we went.

As we got close to home we could see the smoke billowing up into the snowy night and the fire trucks on the hill. Our town and two other neighboring towns had sent firetrucks, there was also an ambulance and The American Red Cross was arriving just after us to deliver hot coffee and snacks to the fire fighters, remember the temp was -5F and a barn fire is big!

It was lot of commotion and excitement. My adrenaline was running high. My farmer had been home when the fire chief and rushed in (he is our neighbor across the street) telling him the barn was on fire. Some guys had been icefishing on our pond and stepped out of their shanty to a blazing barn fire on the hill.
Rob hadn’t been able to get a hold of me, the former employee who had been staying in the bunkhouse though the winter, the family living in the small farmhouse or our business partner and landowner!
So out he went through the fields to take a few pictures of the biggest fire he had ever seen.

This is what My Farmer saw when he stepped out the door!

This is what My Farmer saw when he stepped out the door!

A picture from our neighbor's home, taken with a zoom lense by Stephen Amos

A picture from our neighbor’s home, taken with a zoom lense by Stephen Amos

Picture by My Farmer Rob

Picture by My Farmer Rob

Once home, the kids and I bundled back up to go check out this fire. To me it was surreal, was this really our farm? The kids were amazed, over half a dozen fire trucks, an ambulance, The Red Cross. Our farm was like grand central station.

Photo by thisfarmwife

Photo by thisfarmwife

Our neighbor Chief Brown  photo by thisfarmwife

Our neighbor Chief Brown
photo by thisfarmwife

The firefighters were there until the end, on their New Year’s Eve.

A firefighter talking to my kids. Photo by thisfarmwife

A firefighter talking to my kids. Photo by thisfarmwife

We are so grateful for them.

Photo by thisfarmwife

Photo by thisfarmwife

We owe them, our biggest heartfelt thanks for keeping the house next to the barn from catching fire as the fire burned hot.

Photo by thisfarmwife

Photo by thisfarmwife

A side note: Thank your Volunteer Firefighters! They are an incredible bunch of men and women in small towns across America who do so much and are so very vital to our communities.

Photo by thisfarmwife

Photo by thisfarmwife

My Farmer and I both recalled later that evening the story of Thomas Edison whose barn and shop burned down full of his inventions and work. It is said that he when he saw the fire he yelled “Go get my wife, quick, we’ll never see a fire this big again!” We both really tried to keep that spirit in our minds as we went through varying feelings that night and the next morning. It’s all about attitude. Believe me when I say, it was sad and stressful and horrible but still, it’s all about attitude.

We were incredibly fortunate in that there were no people or livestock in the barn.
Though there was a sweet kitty cat Floey who did perish. Rest in peace Flo.

We had used it for overflow for farm equipment a little farm truck, single row corn picker etc, but all of our tractors and most of our implements had all been stored for the winter in the lower barns. My farmer had bought a 1972 super beetle (2 actually, 1 for parts) that had come from California and was rust free ( a rarity in this salted roads part of the world). He had been storing it for the past 6 years hoping eventually when the kids were a little older to rebuild it with them. So long Super Beetle.

Photo by our neighbor Suzanna Hayes

Photo by our neighbor Suzanna Hayes

Karen, the woman living there did lose all that she had, her clothing, her favorite books, her yarn collection and more…many things dear and special to her.

The outpouring of love and support from our community was amazing.

Really. Truly. Amazing.

It brought tears to our eyes.

So many donations to Karen, and offers to come to help us re-build.

Just kind words and love all around.

We’re still getting through the details… the insurance…. how we’ll house our interns this summer.

Photo by Suzanna Hayes

Photo by Suzanna Hayes

In many ways we’re grieving the loss of an old barn that was a piece of history and the New England cultural landscape that My Farmer and I treasure so dearly.

Hand hewn posts and beams, that barn held stories and was a part of many livelihoods.

We know it’s a process and in the same breath of sadness, every day awaits anew, change happens and new blessings arise from the ashes.

Damage was minimal, no humans hurt, these are great great blessings….and the view from that upper house of the White Mountains just became incredible….that’s a blessing right?!

We’ll count every one we can get…

Photo by former neighbor and dear friend and photographer Rita Mae Muller almost a year ago

Photo by former neighbor and dear friend and photographer Rita Mae Muller almost a year ago

(more than) Everyday Kindess


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I was at farmers market tonight, it was a fantastic evening. Lots of folks from town and away groovin’ on the beginning of their labor day weekend. The band at market tonight was awesome! Check them out here. The music is usually right next to my tent. They were so good I was boppin’ away while I rang up veggies and meats. My kids had set out a little picnic right in front and were in awe of the amazing bass/dobro player. He was really funky!

I looked up to see a familiar face, Sue. I know Sue mainly from homeschooling and a little from church (we go about 10 times a year? so bad!). She organizes a really great homeschool booksale every year at the church where I always stock up on lots of fiction and history and science books!

“Did you go to Alaska this summer?” She asks me. Well, Alaska is fairly exotic to most Vermonters so she would be probably the 50th customer to ask me that in the last 3 weeks. But I don’t mind, I love to gush about my home, it is completely gushable.

“Yes I did it was amazing!” I say, expecting she’ll want to hear all about the hikes and eagles etc. I still need to blog about all that.

Then she says to me, “Did you by any chance buy this book at the homeschool booksale this year?” and she holds up this book.
I was a little surprised at the change in conversation and was tongue-tied for a minute thinking where we left that book that Sue would have found. It’s summa time on the farm so we haven’t been to church in ages!!! But still it wouldn’t be totally surprising, my oldest Grace reads A LOT. She makes it a habit to never leave the house without 2 or 3 books for the car or wherever. There is nothing she hates more than being stuck somewhere without a book.

Then Sue shows me the rest of what is in her hands. It was little package with a note in it. Apparently, Grace left her book on the airplane on our Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle to Boston last month.
I LOVE Alaska Airlines by the way.
I have been a frequent flyer member since I was one week old.
It’s an Alaska thing.
This sweet woman found Grace’s book on the plane on the next flight from Boston back to Seattle and it had this in the back.
This series had been in the church library and Sue, also the church librarian, had pulled the series and decided to sell the books at the homeschool book sale, the proceeds which would go back to the church. I had bought up the series for my voracious reader. She has been enjoying them immensely.

The lady tucked the book into an envelope with a note and $4 in case there were late fees, and mailed it back to the church! (whose address is on that library pocket)

When Sue received it she was telling Pastor Joel about it and he said he had heard that the Martin’s had gone to Alaska this summer.

So there she was at the Friday market where she knew we’d be tonight to return it. Cool isn’t it?!

I just love everyday kindness. To me, everyday kindness is opening the door for someone or paying a toll for the car behind you, or making a meal for a friend.

This lady, I believe, practiced More Than Everyday Kindness.
Good gracious I feel so blessed sometimes.

Thank you sweet lady.
Thank you so much.
Thank you for the book, but mostly, thank you for being so thoughtful, so kind.
Thank you for being such an example.
It was very fun to tell my family this sweet story tonight, because it’s not the kind you hear everyday.
My children and my farmer just smiled and you could tell as I told it that every one’s heart fluttered a little bit.
It’s not the kind of story that the news carries.
It wasn’t worth hundreds, less than a dollar probably.
But truly,
Thank You.

around the farm


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A few moments this week around the farm.

~ Sam chatting with Grandpa while he loads some mulch hay for a project.
~ The farmstand shrouded in early morning fog.
~ Our vegetable manager Dennis, cultivating the spinach.
~ My favorite lettuce, a red buttercrunch.
~ Petunias on the farmstand porch.
~ The green beans are bountiful, bushels and bushels.
~Peaches in the farmstand from our Mennonite friends who bring them up from Pennsylvania. So. So.Delicious.
~ My little MissyMae trying to round up a rogue cow who would like to eat some of that chicken grain.
Never a dull moment around here!